Carlow University Will Use $330,000 State Grant to Help Early Childhood Educators

Carlow University is one of only three universities in Pennsylvania to receive a state grant to help early childhood educators receive training and education.

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One of Only Three Universities in Pennsylvania to Receive Grant

Pittsburgh, Pa. – As one of only three universities in the state of Pennsylvania to receive a special grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education, Carlow University will use its $330,000 grant to support early childhood center educators  interested in pursuing higher education (focusing on those eligible for the TEACH scholarship), which will ultimately advance the state of early childhood education in our region.

“We have outlined an ambitious plan to strengthen and align pathways to certification and credentialing in early childhood education in partnership with several educational organizations,” said Keely Baronak, EdD, the chair of the education department at Carlow.

Carlow conducted a needs assessment and workforce development research to identify barriers to higher education that early childhood educators are already experiencing.

“Our plan will be in partnership with several area high school’s teacher magnet programs, CCAC-North Campus, L’Asilo and Hug Me Tight Childlife center to establish an innovative learning hub, which will serve as the nexus of professional development,” said Baronak.

In addition to the learning hub, Carlow’s grant will support career and certification-focused workshops, a lending library of materials and resources, and a collaboration of value-added components between organizations.

“Instrumental in the professional development component of the hub is a focus on coaching strategies and administrative support to guide practicum and field work,” said Rae Ann Hirsh, DED, Carlow’s program director of early childhood education.  “Formalizing effective coaching strategies and translating these ideas into codified practices will support the work of child care center educators and directors in securing high quality educational environments.”

The key components of Carlow’s plan are:

1. Development of early childhood workforce HUB at Carlow – This HUB will offer early childhood career advising for students working in the early childhood field, house a professional lending library with resources and curriculum kits, and coordinate and deliver workshops for early childhood professionals.

2.  Workshop to Credit Program – In collaboration with Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Carlow will identify, revise, and create a series of workshops that will lead to credit equivalency for several education courses at Carlow.

3.  Revision of the Cranberry and Greensburg satellite program for early childhood workforce students with associate degrees – The current program is a traditional college sequence with onsite and hybrid courses. The revised program would be designed using a competency-based model, which will ensure that students get credit for skills they have already mastered and are not required to repeat those courses or content.

4.  CCAC-North Campus Partnership – CCAC-North Campus and Carlow faculty would work to create a unique articulation agreement to encourage more early childhood workforce professionals to seek a bachelor’s degree after finishing their associate’s degree.  The agreement would include a Carlow faculty member teaching an integrated early childhood technology course onsite at CCAC-North, a visit to the main campus for an early childhood professional development seminar, and the creation of additional advising, mentoring, and tutoring to assist CCAC students in earning their bachelor’s degrees.

5. College Readiness Track – Carlow will provide assistance through its Center for Academic Achievement to support adult students with their transition to college level writing, speaking, and mathematics.

6.  Partnership with Early Learning Centers: L’Asilo and Hug Me Tight Childlife — This grant will develop workshops, seminars, and professional communities of practice for the training needs of these childcare centers.  The training will be designed in a series that can be taken for course credit. In addition, Carlow will offer groups of courses as certificate programs to help make degree completion a more realistic goal.

7.  Partnership with Several High Schools’ Teacher Cadet Programs – Carlow will partner with teacher magnet programs to introduce students to the teaching profession.  Carlow will offer college seminars in the high school, invite high school students to special events with students on campus, provide career and college materials, and early childhood career advising for all participants in the program.

In December, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that Carlow was one of three Pennsylvania universities to receive The Higher Education, Early Child Care, and Community-based Partnership Working to Implement Innovative and Sustained Pathways grant, which is designed to enable early childhood education staff to participate in and complete a credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA), associate degree, bachelor degree, and/or Pennsylvania PreK-4 teacher certification.

In addition to Carlow, the competitive grant, made available through Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, Drexel University and Shippensburg University were successfully funded to build cross-systems partnership opportunities to identify and reduce barriers to access early childhood education degrees for currently employed early childhood educators.

For more information about Carlow’s early childhood education program, please visit


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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